Interview with Gopalakrishnan

My name is Gopal and I am a graduate from NLU, Jodhpur, batch of 2011. I run my own sports media company Ekalavyas, looking to promote less popular non-cricket sports in India, starting with basketball. I am also an independent writer for various print and online publications.

Q. Hello, it’s a pleasure to have you with us! Could you please tell us a little bit about yourself and your life at law school? What extra-curricular and co-curricular activities were you involved in?

I grew up in coastal Karnataka, in a University town called Manipal. Being interested in English, debating and keen to bring about a positive change in society, I decided to study law. I joined NLU Jodhpur in 2006. In Law School, the major extra-curricular activity I was involved in was playing basketball. I represented and captained the college team, and also coached the women’s team. Besides this, during the initial years of college I also used to play the tabla in university functions.

Q. After Law School, you worked as an Associate Commissioning Editor at LexisNexis India for about 2 years. Now you’re running your own startup! Did you ever envision this while at law school or even right after graduation?

Yes I did envision running my own startup while at Law School itself. I remember in the second or third year having a conversation with a batchmate – Aravind Mokkapati, who went on to co-found Ekalavyas with me – that we should do ‘something’ in the sports management space. That said, it was just a casual conversation, and while at Law School and even at LexisNexis, the goal was to give 100% to these institutions/organizations. It’s only when the ‘honeymoon’ period ends that one thinks of starting something new.

Q. Could you tell us a little bit about your initiative ‘Ekalavyas Consultancy Pvt. Ltd.’ – India’s only website for Basketball news? What was the inspiration/motivation behind the same? What does a typical day in your life look like?

As the name suggests, Ekalavyas seeks to promote less popular sports in India, starting with basketball. In Hindu Mythology, Ekalavya was a classic underdog story – a talented archer who was wronged by the person he considered his mentor/coach. Although in recent years the situation is noticeably transforming for the better, alternate sports in India continue to face relative neglect compared to cricket. So Ekalavyas seeks to change that, through highlighting stories/issues that don’t get enough mainstream media attention.

A typical day (pre-COVID of course) involves travelling for tournaments across India, meeting stakeholders from different areas of the sports industry to explore business collaborations and creating audio-visual content for Ekalavyas’ own platforms/third-party platforms.

Q. How did you go about setting up Ekalavyas Consultancy? Was the process of career change a difficult one? What factors did you take into consideration before making the switch?

The process of career change is definitely difficult no matter how glamorous it looks from the outside. There is definitely a lot of soul searching and trying to understand and justify to yourself what you are truly passionate about. The process of career change is also gradual and not sudden, although there could be immediate triggers. In my case, I knew right from college that I wanted to do something that combines my interest in media and basketball/sports. From third year of college itself I started gravitating towards internships in the media industry in areas that are nonetheless focused on law. For example, I interned with Bar & Bench a couple of times. Thereafter in my fourth year, I also interned with Go Sports Foundation, which combines media, marketing, law and sports.

After college, I took up a 9-to-5 job in legal publishing. During the 9-to-5 job, in my mind I had given myself ‘exit windows’ every six months to review my priorities. Almost two years into the job, I felt I had built up a reasonable amount of corpus and professional work experience to take the plunge into launching my own startup.

Q. What were some of the challenges that you faced as a part of the process of making a career switch from the legal field and how did you overcome them? Do you think that not having gone to Journalism School made it a slight bit more challenging to enter the realm of freelance journalism?

The decision to not go to journalism school was intentional. In twelfth standard itself I was clear that I wanted to enter the media industry. But based on conversations with my parents and others, I felt that law school offers many of the same BA courses that a journalism school would too.

That said, I definitely faced some challenges – A) My professional network was entirely composed of legal industry people, and I didn’t know anyone from the media industry; B) I had to consciously unlearn certain ‘bad habits’ that I had picked up in Law School – that may work in the legal industry but were hampering my journalistic ability – specifically verbosity and long-winded complex sentences.

Q. Has your legal background helped you in anyway in your current professional journey? Are there any unexpected skills that you brought in from law school to your career today?

A law degree definitely helps in the media industry! I feel that being grounded in the study of the law makes for a formidable journalist – someone who is not intimidated by legal terms, documents, procedures and practices – and can hence be more willing to speak truth to power. I feel a legal background specifically helps if you want to pursue investigative journalism, legal journalism or public policy journalism.

Personally, having done my honours in Constitutional Law, I am especially sensitive to arbitrary abuse of power, free speech issues, non-transparency in decision making by public authorities, and protecting & enhancing individual rights/liberties through systemic reform of institutions.

In the media industry, especially among creative professionals, a sound knowledge of Intellectual Property Law (Copyrights/Trademarks) and contract drafting can be highly useful.

Q. Most of our readers are students of the law or are law graduates. What advice do you have for those who want to take up a career based on their passion but feel limited to the conventional career options in the legal field?

Law is a very versatile course to study. Law governs everything and anything. So it is important for law students to understand that their only commitment is to build a working knowledge and appreciation for the law, and get a law degree. Beyond that, financial reasons aside, they should not feel burdened to pursue a professional path in law just because most of their peers are doing so.

My advice to those who want to take up a career based on their passion is to first keep testing out if you are really passionate about something – by doing internships (and other extra-curricular activities while in college). Organically & slowly start moving towards designing your dream career, and be patient. Life is incredibly long and we unnecessarily impose expectations on ourselves to have everything ‘figured out’ by our mid-late twenties.

Find out more about Gopalakrishnan –

Disclaimer – All views and opinions expressed in this interview are personal and belong solely to the interviewee(s) and do not necessarily represent those of the LAABh Foundation or the individuals and institutions associated with LAABh Foundation.

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